SAN DIEGO –In the future, Phillip Rivers may want to think about testing the rookie instead of trying to pick on a $10 million a year cornerback like Brandon Carr.
While Carr was starring in Saturday's second exhibition, intercepting the Chargers quarterback twice, first-round pick Morris Claiborne was just getting his feet wet on the other side of the field. The No. 6 overall pick was only targeted twice during his first half of work, once on a bubble screen when he was playing in off coverage, and later on a short comeback route.
In both instances, he quickly made the tackle, surrendering a grand total of 13 yards.
"I thought they were going to come at me every snap," Claiborne said. "But I just tried to go out and play as honest as I could, not jump on any crazy route, just stay on top of everything, try not to let anything behind me. If you were going to catch something in front of me, I was going to give it to you, I'd just come down and make the tackle, but getting beat over the top, that's how you lose."
Claiborne sat out Monday's preseason opener at Oakland as a precaution after spraining his MCL during training camp, but said he felt fine after playing the Chargers. He had missed 14 practices this offseason while recovering from wrist surgery.
"The lights weren't bright for him," Carr said. "It wasn't a big moment for him. He kept his poise very well, and he went out there and battled, made some tackles. He finally got his first taste of NFL receivers, and I can't wait to get back at home and see what he does at Cowboys Stadium."
Claiborne's final tune-up, it's likely, will come in a week, against the St. Louis Rams in the preseason dress rehearsal. Until then, Saturday was the most important night of his journey toward Sept. 5.
"I've just been itching to get out on the field," Claiborne said. "But I just had to do what the doctors wanted me to do. They knew what was best, and that was just to try to heal up before I went back out there."